What Does it Mean to Refuse to Stop for Police?
Refusing to stop for police or evading the police is an offence under section 216 of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA). The severity of the penalty will depend on the facts of a case. You may be charged for a failure to stop if the following elements are present in your case:
- while you were driving, you willfully attempted to evade the officer;
- you knew the officer was trying to get you to stop and pull over;
- you continued to drive with the intent to evade the officer;
- the officer’s siren’s went off;
- you saw or should have seen the lights;
- the officer was driving in a distinctively marked car; and
- the officer was in uniform.
If you did not notice the lights of a police car in your rear view mirror, it is possible that the officer will give you a warning. In any event, when a police officer requests that a person pull over, he or she is required to stop according to the law. This expectation remains even if the person believes the police officer had no justifiable reason to request the person to stop. So long as the police officer is able to demonstrate that he or she had probable cause of any law to request the stop, it is a legal request and compliance is expected. The best practice is to pull over and allow the officer the opportunity to explain the reason for the stop.
If an officer asks for basic information such as your driver’s licence, proof of insurance and registration, it is recommended that you provide these. After that, you have a right to remain silent and talk to a lawyer before you answer any questions posed by the police officer.
Refusing to stop for a police officer without lawful excuse can result in a variety of penalties including but not limited to a driver licence suspension, restitution and other fines, probation, community service and potential jail time. Specifically, anybody who fails to stop can be convicted of the offence and be subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $10,000, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 6 months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. If you are convicted of wilfully evading the police, harsher penalties may be imposed. In particular, you could face a fine between $5,000 and $25,000 and a minimum imprisonment for a term of not less than 14 days and not more than six months. If any bodily harm or death is caused during the evasion, your driver’s licence could be suspended for five years, or 10 years to a lifetime along with demerit points to your driving record.
The offence of failing to stop for police is a strict liability offence. Accordingly, a defence of due diligence is available. If you can demonstrate sincere and mistaken belief that there were no police trying to stop you, and this is found objectively reasonable, you may receive a different or lesser serious penalty. Other defences may be available depending on your case and that is where the role of one of our lawyers at Aitken Robertson comes into play.
What Should I do if I am Stopped by a Police Officer?
If you are stopped by a police officer in a marked car for a traffic violation, keep in mind the following tips to increase your chances of avoiding a ticket:
- Slow down and safely pull over as soon as possible to avoid being accused of evading the police officer
- Remain calm and collected
- Turn off the engine of the car
- Keep both hands clearly in sight
- Do not exit the vehicle unless instructed by the officer
- Be respectful, courteous and non-confrontational
- Comply with the officer’s demands
- Do not volunteer information
- Provide your driver’s licence, insurance, and registration
- Ask for the officer’s name and badge number in a non-confrontational manner
How Can a Criminal Defence Lawyer from Aitken Robertson Assist?
Police officers are empowered by the law to execute their duties in the name of protecting members of the public. Our lawyers are knowledgeable with respect to employing an array of strategies to help you negotiate a plea bargain to get rid of the charges or to enter a plea for a lesser crime that carries a minimal penalty. Check out what our clients are saying about us in our reviews and then let us go to work for you!